Representatives from the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF,
The meeting -- which includes 12 scientists from China is seen as a thawing of the standoff between Taipei and Beijing, initiated by President Lee Teng-hui's (
"Due to the different political positions highlighted in July, the annual `cold air mass' from the mainland (
"However, we hope the exchange of scientific information can help to improve the cross-strait atmosphere," Jan said.
Regarding the absence of representatives from the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS,
"Without its support, it would have been difficult for us to come here," said He Yongnian (
The Beijing group declined the invitation but was quoted by the SEF as saying it was "pleased to see its accomplishments."
Jan said the arrival of 12 Chinese seismologists marked a significant step forward and boosted hopes for further warming of ties that have been frosty for months.
"It's our goal to create opportunities for interaction by both sides," Jan said.
"Cross-strait exchanges should continue regardless of any change in bilateral relations. We hope this meeting can help create a favorable atmosphere," Jan said.
Many of the scientists attending the conference, however, said they would rather see the exchange of simple scientific information, rather than trying to use the event as a platform for political ends.
According to Yeh Yih-hsiung (
"The purpose of the conference today is to come up with more efficient disaster prevention strategies in the event of earthquakes," Yeh said.
He stressed that they came to Taiwan with enthusiasm to contribute their knowledge and experience.
He went on to suggest that scientists on both sides of the Strait should work together, because China and Taiwan share the same predicament of being earthquake-prone areas.
"To minimize life and property loss in disaster areas hit by earthquakes, we have to improve our understanding of earthquakes, as well as disaster prevention strategies, by trading scientific information," he said.
There are more than 15,000 scientists working under the auspices of China's State Seismological Bureau, and officials there claim to have successfully predicted several earthquakes in Liaoning province, northeastern China, which they say has impressed many Western scientists.
At the two-day conference, 12 scientists from China are presenting 11 research articles regarding several quakes that have hit China, while Taiwanese seismologists are providing the latest available statistical data regarding last year's 921 earthquake.
While scientists praised the impressive quake data recording achievements by Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau, bureau officials announced that they have relocated the epicenter of the 921 earthquake, saying it actually hit 8km beneath the surface, instead of the previously announced 1.1km.
Before wrapping up their five-day visit to Taiwan, the Chinese scientists plan to conduct field investigation work in disaster areas in central Taiwan.
An unofficial unit called the Cross-strait Seismological Technology Exchange Center, subordinate to China's State Seismological Bureau, will hold a conference in Fujien province in May to continue the information exchange with Taiwanese scientists.
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